Road Trip AUS - Where To Stay?
July 4, 2015 11:31 PM   Subscribe

Road Trip AUS - usually when I roadtrip (in the US), I'll just stop for the day when; somewhere particularly nice turns up; I'm tired and reach the next motel. Is this style of roadtripping possible in AUS? From the research I've done so far, I'm not too sure, and I'm concerned about hassles involving pre-booking hotels to ensure a place to stay each night: for me, in a roadtrip, I'm looking for the freedom of not having to make daily schedules.

Additional notes:
1) I'm currently travelling through SE Asia, considering next destinations, and this is my #1 choice - if I can work out this accommodation piece
2) This would be for 4 weeks, starting Weds
3) This would be in an intermediate car, which I can get at Europcar for $1000 AUD (unlimited km), which is my max. I'm guessing I could not get a camper within this range
4) This would be moving on almost every day - so at the most, I'd need 28 places to stay
posted by forallmankind to Travel & Transportation around Australia (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
You can get a camper for about $1500 for the month, which will save a buzoozle in accom costs. Even the cheapest of the cheap caravan park vans are $50-$100pn and will be much more in the places you may want to visit. Motels will be at least $100pn, even hostels will not be cheap. Whereas, with a camper, you can decide to just pull off the road and have a cuppa, have a nap etc. There are lots of places to stay in a camper. Grab the YouCamp app for all the free awesome camp spots

Get a camper. You'll be much better off.
Have fun!
posted by Thella at 11:45 PM on July 4, 2015

Pretty much yes. The economics of hotel/motel vacancies are the same, the no vacancy sign will be put out in peak periods, particularly the summer holidays and major long weekends, but most of the time accommodation will have spare rooms. In the big towns of course there's to book ahead a day at a time. One tip would be to know when school holidays are and avoid then.

Not going to tell you road-tripping Australia is a bad idea, but I'm not sure it's the best way to spend 4 weeks in Australia. It's a REALLY BIG country without necessarily all that much to see or do between sights.
posted by wilful at 11:56 PM on July 4, 2015 [2 favorites]

Oh you'd probably budget at least $100 a night for a motel (and some of these would be pretty woeful), a campervan would cost about $20 a night camping fees (I believe), fuel would cost a little more, but the difference in accommodation costs and vehicle costs should be considered.
posted by wilful at 11:58 PM on July 4, 2015

In some parts of Australia, there aren't many options. Across the nullarbor, there's nothing between roadhouses ~100km apart. I've never organised a trip like this, but some camping equipment could be a good plan, just in case you get unlucky.

If you like driving, Australia is a good place to do it.
posted by kjs4 at 12:30 AM on July 5, 2015

This really depends on where you plan to travel.

Down the eastern seaboard, you should have no problem (outside school hols and other peak times). Across the Nullarbor, or up the western coast, that's another matter.
posted by GeeEmm at 12:50 AM on July 5, 2015 [2 favorites]

It really depends on where in Australia you were planning to go. There is a vast amount of country where there is really nothing. Nevermind about having to pre-book - you'll have to do a bit of pre-plannng just to make sure you'll actually reach some sort of town that day *at all*.

If there are accommodation facilities wherever you end up, I'd say you'd generally be OK just turning up - but bear in mind that in Western Australia (don't know about the other States) it's school holidays for the next 2 weeks.

But come to Australia! Some of the more interesting sights aren't in the cities, they're out in far flung places that take a bit of driving to get to, and you're willing to drive, so you'll get to see them!
posted by pianissimo at 12:56 AM on July 5, 2015

I did something similar with a friend last year. We flew up to Port Douglas and drove down to Sydney, stopping a few nights at a time along the way. A few things that surprised us (we're both Canadian, I've lived in Melbourne for a few years):

- Motels aren't cheap. There isn't really an equivalent to the sub-$100/night small-but-clean motel you'd find in the US. Expect to pay ~$150/night for a private room in most towns, and upwards of $200/night in the cities.

- The cheap options (hostel, Airbnb) take a bit of prep. We winged it and booked hostels a night or two in advance (we had a lot of trouble booking the day of, even in shared rooms, and this was outside peak period). I wish we had planned one week at a time.

- Everything is expensive. I should have expected this, but even the backpacker lifestyle is expensive when you're paying $20 for a 6-pack of beer and $6 for a loaf of bread at the supermarket. Your money will not go as far, hence the need to plan.

Four weeks is a really long time to wing it. Australia is a huge country, and it's currently winter (our winter in Melbourne is much colder than yours in LA). If I were on vacation, I'd stay in Queensland and maybe NSW. There's no shortage of nice places there.

Oh, and "school holidays" is roughly the equivalent of spring break. Places book out quickly.
posted by third word on a random page at 1:21 AM on July 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

Easy to do, and quite fun.

From Adelaide to Cairns it's not problem, plenty of places to stay and awesome things to see. Driving the coast road is a brilliant trip but will take a long time. Adelaide to Melbourne (through the Coorong- while it still exists) is fantastic. Three, maybe four days.

Melbourne to Sydney via the coast is a brilliant drive, and easily done in two enjoyable days.

Sydney to Brisbane via the Pacific highway is a good drive, plenty of places to stay - two easy days. Then up to Cairns from Brisbane via the Bruce highway is four days with plenty to see and places to stay.

Once you get into the interior, the it become harder and depending on how far interior you want to go, be prepared to camp / reliable 4wd etc - but utterly worthwhile.
posted by mattoxic at 1:44 AM on July 5, 2015

Things are more expensive, but the exchange rate is greatly in your favour right now! (I dunno - I live in Sydney and bread isn't $6, unless you get the really nice organic stuff. Coles and Woolworths are the two big grocery stores and both allow you to shop online if you want to check prices).

I'm American and have done a lot of road-tripping and driving all over the continental states. The big difference here is that we just *don't* have the same population density. Once you leave a big city, the towns get super small super fast (and then pretty far apart). So, like you could leave SF for LA down I-5 or 99 any time of day and stop whenever and it'd be no problem... but you wouldn't just leave Albuquerque for Oklahoma City at 5pm assuming you could easily stop whenever you got tired. It might require that sort of planning.

I've done the campervan thing here and it was great! I just checked and got a quote for $42/day AUD. Winters are mild - I think if you stay N. of Sydney you'd be ok. It's been close to freezing the last few nights here in Sydney though, and if you head S. toward Melbourne it will get colder. I've camped in CA and AR in Feb in a down sleeping bag (rated for summer in AK) and it was...cold enough to be Not Fun.

Despite having been cold last night, the weather here today was *beautiful*. Sunny, clear, warm in the sun!
posted by jrobin276 at 2:02 AM on July 5, 2015 [1 favorite]

As mentioned above, this:

a) greatly depends on where you are driving. East coast of Aus would mostly be no problems, and
b) you should be prepared to say in pretty shitty (for the price) hotels; you can't rely on decent backpacker joints the whole way necessarily.

Australia is big. The distance between Perth and Sydney is further than the distance between Paris and Moscow. Sydney to Cairns is nearly as far. If you wanna do a lot of driving, you've come to right place, but there are better ways to digest the country for sure. Also, Nthing campervans for sure. You will save so much money over the long haul.
posted by smoke at 2:11 AM on July 5, 2015

Response by poster: Thank you all for taking the time to offer input and suggestions. I've taken the campervan idea to heart and done some additional research. Agreed that it's a cheaper option than motels, but I also have to factor in that the fuel economy (10l/100km) is 2x that of the rental car I was going to get, which adds a significant extra cost for the mileage I anticipate. And I've not even factored in food yet.... Oh boy - I honestly had no idea how expensive Australia is: I guess it's a trip for another time, perhaps with friends who can share the cost....
posted by forallmankind at 7:58 AM on July 5, 2015

Also remember that a lot of pubs in Australia offer accommodation, especially the ones in small country towns, if they don't they will know someone who will. The accommodation can be a little primitive with shared bathrooms but if you are in the arse end of no where they may be the only accommodation around. Also a lot of Caravan parks in Australia have on site cabins or vans to rent, and again these may be more common in out of the way locations than motels.

Remember when looking at distances that most of Australia is not connected with fancy expressways & toll roads like in the US. Our Highways for the most part are simply 2 lane roads one lane going each way, with no divider, that you'll be sharing with truck traffic (road trains of 3 trailers or so if you go outback) with no overtaking lanes for kms, so while you might think you can do x distance in a day because you can drive that far in the US, you won't be able to as the roads are not as easy to travel. You do however get to see a lot more as it's right there on the road and you're not just whizzing by it.
posted by wwax at 11:28 AM on July 5, 2015

Are you willing to sleep in the car? My mum does a lot of driving up and down the west coast and, as someone who thinks she is going to die if she spends $1, usually sleeps in rest stops. It's not illegal, they're free, there are lots of them and usually they have basic toilet facilities too.
posted by Wantok at 8:32 PM on July 5, 2015

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